Janet Napolitano testifies on Department of Homeland Security oversight

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U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee March 9, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Less than a month before DREAM Act-eligible immigrants will be able to apply for relief to deportation, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the topic.

In her opening statement, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised her department's recent policy change, known as deferred action.

This new, temporary order would suspend deportation for some youth who were brought to the country illegally and are students with no criminal record here.

But Napolitano was challenged by many House Republicans, who equated deferred action to amnesty.

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) said he would sue the department over the program.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) asked Napolitano whether there were steps in place to avoid possible immigration scams that could take advantage of deferred action applicants.

“We’re trying to address it in a couple of ways: outreach, working with different faith-based and advocacy groups, and with student groups and others," she said. "The application itself is available online, it’ll be based on existing application forms, and then I’m going to reach out to the Justice Department to see if through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, if they can help us in this regard.”

The Department of Homeland Security will put out additional guidelines on August 1.

DREAM Act-eligible immigrants who are granted deferred action may be able to work, but will not be entitled to federally-funded public assistance, such as welfare, health or unemployment benefits.

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